By Nawa Mutumweno- The Zambia Honey Partnership (ZHP) is to hold the fourth Annual Honey sector Stakeholders Forum at Lothian House in Kitwe from April 27 – 28, 2011.
The Partnership, which is chaired by the Organic Producers and Processors Association of Zambia (OPPAZ), is providing a rational approach, by both the public and private sector, in promoting sustainable social and economic growth of the country’s emerging honey industry.
Since its inception Annual Meeting of February 2008, sponsored and facilitated by SNV Zambia, NORAD and CORDAID, the platform has scored many successes including the following:- development of a coordination framework for stakeholders in the honey sector that has facilitated consensus building; developed Operating Principles through the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) by several stakeholders( so far 20 in number); and Established working groups, for example, the ZHP National Steering Committee; ZHP committee on American Foul Brood Working Group and Access of Zambia bee products into the South African markets and a ZHP committee that planned the successful hosting of the ApiTrade Africa ApiExpo 2010 in Lusaka, Zambia.
During the past Annual Meetings, ZHP has addressed itself to major sector constraints that are being understood to include; Weak industry information base(both production and marketing), inadequate capitalization resulting in mediocre production and processing technologies, poor branding (packaging, labeling and product presentation); low volumes of honey production, perceived low producer prices, poor market access, weak infrastructure in the main areas of production, resulting in operational costs, in particular, transport costs. In addition, the industry is characterized by limited product range, poor access to financial services and low loan repayments, low quality of honey exhibited by high level of impurities, limited storage required for bulking; poor value chain-governance related to the random nature of interaction of main actors in most honey producing areas; and the high cost of organic certification. In recent years, climate change is being observed to be resulting in unexplained behavior of bees such as absconding, in some cases, death of bees and loss of vegetation.
It is in view of the foregoing that the Partnership is accelerating lobbying for policy reforms; mobilization of resources to capitalize the honey sector; strengthening farmer organization for coordinated actions; procurement of the modern small-scale production and processing technologies; advocating for environmental responsibility for abatement of climate change; encouraging of branding and use of quality assurance marks; and development of holistic integration strategies such as eco-api-agrotourism.
Priority activities have included undertaking a baseline study to be the starting point for understanding the state of the industry and to be the basis upon which interventions can be developed. The ZHP understands that this process requires resources. As such, a strategy for resource mobilization will be one of the main considerations at the forthcoming Annual Meeting. All those that are in one way another are involved in commercial activities of bee keeping are invited to participate in the forum.